Friday, September 30, 2011

Young Earth Creationism in the 21st Century

 

We discussed Young Earth Creationism in our last class. As most of you know, the Young Earth Creationist believes that the universe was created about 10,000 years ago and that all modern species (or kinds) were created simultaneously at that time. This view is compatible with the Genesis story in the Bible.

How is it possible for someone in the 21st century to ignore all the scientific evidence supporting an Earth that has been around for 4.5 billions years and an universe that is even older? We tried to come up with the most common ways that Young Earth Creationists can rationalize the obvious conflict.

The most obvious explanation is that they are completely unaware of the massive amount of scientific evidence that conflicts with their belief. In other words, they simply don't see a conflict between science and their religion because they have never been taught proper science. I suspect this is true of the vast majority of Young Earth Creationists.

But there's a subset of them who know the science. They have to come up with some sort of explanation that makes their position compatible with the findings of science. We identified two sorts of explanation that seem to apply.

1. Reject the scientific evidence as unreliable and try to discredit scientists. This path gives rise to talking points about the errors in carbon-14 dating and the fact that atheist scientists are blinded by their "religion."

2. Rely on faith and revelation as superior paths to knowledge. This means that the scientific "evidence" must be wrong even though the flaws aren't obvious. It must be wrong because it conflicts with God's word and there's no more reliable indicator of truth than the word of God.

(Sometimes the superiority of faith leads to the conclusion that God must have deliberately created an Earth with the illusion of age. It's not clear why God did this but we are not in a position to question God's wisdom in this matter.)

The BioLogos Foundation has, until recently, promoted theistic evolution. This worldview tends to accept scientific evidence as much as possible. Theistic Evolutionists, for example, are perfectly happy with a 4.5 billion year old Earth.

This emphasis on Theistic Evolution seems to be changing as Jerry Coyne points out in a recent article on his blog website: Templeton-Funded BioLogos cleans house, promotes young-earth creationist, begins slide into irrelevance. BioLogos now has a video promoting a Young Earth Creationist named Aaron Daly [A Young Earth Creationist Perspective].

Watch the video and see if you can figure out how a seemingly rational person can believe in something that is totally discredited by science.


17 comments :

  1. I think saying BioLogos is promoting Aaron Daly's viewpoint is overstepping. The video is part of a segment on their website decoted to presenting many different viewpoints on many topics. As they put it, "The BioLogos Foundation is pleased to unveil its new “Conversations” videos. These interviews, conducted during our November 2009 workshop “In Search of a Theology of Celebration,” feature attendees offering their thoughts on topics that range from interpreting Genesis to the general harmony between science and faith. Check back each Wednesday to see the latest videos, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to share and comment on our videos."

    I don't think the posting of the video in any way signals any shift in the perspective of BioLogos itself, based on that.

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  2. It boggles the mind to think that actual adult human beings today living in literate cultures believe YEC crap.

    Or OEC, or any form of ID. It's all creationism, and it's all of course wrong.

    I'm delighted that people such as yourself soldier on, seemingly tirelessly, and with relative good humor.

    Education and more education is the only way.

    So, Bravo to you, Dr. Moran!

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  3. What I don't understand is why so many scientists say YECs think the world is about 10,000 years old. I have never seen a YEC claim the earth was anything except approximately 6000 years old. I've always had the impression that its an attempt to be inclusive, as if there were YECs who aren't fundamentalist Christians and might claim the world is 7000 or 9000 years old. But there aren't so far as I know (Moslems,I believe have no dogma about the age of the earth).

    Another thing I've never seen addressed is why Ussher bothered to come up with the 4004 BC date. Such calculations were a major past time among English churchmen int he 17th century, so he did it as a professional activity that looked good on the CV, but the more fundamental reason behind Christians making such calculations is anti-Semitic, to prove that the Jews are wrong (they hold that it is 5772 since the creation, instead of Ussher's 6014)

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  4. What I don't understand is why so many scientists say YECs think the world is about 10,000 years old.

    Kent Hovind is probably the most well known YEC who cites a 10,000 year age. I don't know of any others off the top of my head, but I'm sure they're out there.

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  5. Rely on faith and revelation as superior paths to knowledge. This means that the scientific "evidence" must be wrong even though the flaws aren't obvious. It must be wrong because it conflicts with God's word and there's no more reliable indicator of truth than the word of God.

    "Prof." Kurt Wise, BS, Un. of Chicago, Phd, Harvard Un., student of Stephen Jay Gould is the most prominent example of this. Attached is a link to an article by Richard Dawkins on "Prof." Wise which is written more in sadness then in anger.

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_21_4.html

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  6. @Renee I don't think the posting of the video in any way signals any shift in the perspective of BioLogos itself

    I agree, Biologos was always a thin veneer of pseudo science over a solid core of crazy, just enough to keep the Templeton money coming in.

    We're just seeing the cheap veneer rubbing off now.

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  7. Renee says,

    I think saying BioLogos is promoting Aaron Daly's viewpoint is overstepping. The video is part of a segment on their website decoted to presenting many different viewpoints on many topics.

    Right. I'll believe it when I see the videos advocating atheism.

    The BioLogos foundation is being very selective in choosing the "different viewpoints" they post on their website. The fact that this video is on the website all that's required in order to conclude that BioLogos is "promoting" Aaron Daly's viewpoint.

    Just out of curiosity, do you think that the NCSE website would ever post a video from a Young Earth Creationist just as a courtesy designed to promote many different viewpoints?

    Of course they wouldn't.

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  8. Anebo says,

    What I don't understand is why so many scientists say YECs think the world is about 10,000 years old.

    It dates from a time when "scientific creationists" talked about creation within the past 10,000 years. Many of them avoided talking about a specific date (e.g. 6000 years ago) because they didn't want to get bogged down in debates about the genealogy in the Bible.

    It also corresponds to the question usually asked on polls ("God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.") We know that somewhat more than 40% of Americans agree with that statement.

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  9. The real problem is that the age of the earth is an historical rather than a scientific issue.

    Creationists can accept either an old earth or a young earth - the bottom line is that life has been created rather than evolved from simple chemicals. Astonishingly, the likes of Larry think they can explain the origins and diversity of life purely in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry.

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  10. Atheistoclast said: The real problem is that the age of the earth is an historical rather than a scientific issue.

    The age of something is an empirical questions and is thus amenable to scientific testing.

    We can make falsifiable predictions such as: If the earth was formed by process X, we should be able to find Y in it's crust, etc. etc.

    On such a basis, the age of the earth has been very well established.

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  11. "The real problem is that the age of the earth is an historical rather than a scientific issue."

    Once again, Atheistoclast shows us that she/he knows nothing about science or the scientific method.

    From multiple lines of evidence, we have now a pretty good idea of how old the earth is, and how old the universe is. Nothing points to a 6,000 year old earth.

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  12. "Astonishingly, the likes of Larry think they can explain the origins and diversity of life purely in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry."

    Yes, as opposed by those who invoke an imaginary sky pixie.

    Your point is?

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  13. Atheistoclast said...
    "The real problem is that the age of the earth is an historical rather than a scientific issue."

    If that were the opening paragraph in a 500 page book one wouldn't need to read any further than that in order to just close it, place it in the recycling bin, and go to the pub. Some arguments can be dismissed without even listening to an explanation, and that's a perfect example of one.

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  14. Atheistoclast said...

    Astonishingly, the likes of Larry think they can explain the origins and diversity of life purely in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry.

    More atonishingly there are those that think an invisible sky fairly poofed it all into existence.

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  15. «The real problem is that the age of the earth is an historical rather than a scientific issue.»

    We live in a universe that is changing rather than static. In some cases, those changes happen at a rate that can be known precisely, or can be approximately estimated with known error bars. In many cases, multiple collections of changing systems can be used to cross-correlate a time estimate.

    The age of the Earth, and of the universe, is a historical issue that is scientific. Being historical does not magically make an issue non-scientific.

    «Creationists can accept either an old earth or a young earth»

    They can accept the consensus on the empirical estimate of the age of the Earth and the Universe, using the same scientific method that is used for all science, or they can reject it and deny it out of nothing more than religious fanaticism.

    «the bottom line is that life has been created rather than evolved from simple chemicals.»

    Is it too much to ask for you to be a little more careful in your wording?

    The bottom line is that Creationists claim that life has been created rather than evolved from simple chemicals.

    «Astonishingly, the likes of Larry think they can explain the origins and diversity of life purely in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry.»

    It is not astonishing at all, given that no-one -- certainly no creationist -- has shown that the laws of physics and chemistry are somehow not applicable to the origins and diversity of life.

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  16. www.John316.com - A summary of the Bible
    .
    www.Isaiah7-14.com - A new look at the virgin birth

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  17. Evolution is scientifically impossible. Creation is fact

    ReplyDelete